Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Beyond The Frame | The Đàn Nhị Player | Fuji X-T1

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved
I thought I'd feature an audio file as well as an image for this post of Beyond The Frame; both which were produced during my The People of Tay Bac Photo Expedition-Workshop in September 2014; a trip which planted the seed for my two years book project Hầu Đồng: The Spirit Mediums of Vietnam (now on Amazon).

Thổ Hà village is about 40 kilometers from Hanoi, and is reachable across the narrow Cau River which we crossed on a rusty ferry. The village is known for making rice paper and banh da (rice crackers); its two main exports since 1990.

We passed a a row of old houses, and met Việt in one of the courtyards. He welcomed us into his house, offering us rice wine in small goblets. Seeing a collection of traditional instruments on his living room's walls, I asked if he played them...and he said yes. Being encouraged to play, he grabbed one of the stringed instruments and started singing a number of traditional Vietnamese songs, and entertained us for over an hour.

His favorite instrument was the đàn nhị Vietnamese, also called đàn cò; a Vietnamese bowed string instrument with two strings. The word nhị means "two" in Vietnamese. Việt was a civil servant (and possibly served in the army when younger) and had recently retired on a pension. He intended to teach his young son to play a musical instrument.

Technical Details: Fuji X-T1+ 18-135mm. 1/20 Hand Held. f4.0. iso 1600. Aperture Priority. 10:30 AM (Vietnam Time). Post Processing with Color Efex Pro.

I'm not sure why I used the Fujinon 18-135mm lens in this instance...it's my least favorite lens, I had just bought it before the trip to use for a specific photo shoot in Hoi An and it was ill-suited for this indoor low-light ambiance. I had the X-Pro1 and the 18mm f2.0 lens, so I'm puzzled as to the reason.

I recorded Việt songs on a Tascam DR-40 4-Track Mobile Digital Recorder.